Our 2014-2015 Curriculum Plans and Checklists

by | May 13, 2015 | Curriculum, Home Education | 35 comments

We are already nearing the end of our school year and I am finally (finally!) getting around to sharing my curriculum plans. This post has been in my draft folder since last summer, but since some of you are still interested to hear the details, and since I always love looking back at what we have studied over the years, I’m going to try and finish it up real quick. 

This school year (2014-2015) our children are in 8th, 7th grade, 5th, 4th, and 2nd grade. Rose (age 4 at the beginning of the school year) and Bud (age 2 at the beginning of the school) love joining the fun! We are currently using Saxon Math with all the children, as well as courses from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and All About Learning (AAL) for Language Arts, Focus on Science Biology and Physics from Real Science for Kids, Latin from Memoria Press, Connecting with History from RC History, Maps Charts and Graphs, and Meet the Masters for Art. It has been a great school year and I feel like we have finally settled into a curriculum and routine that works well for all of us, at least right now during this particular season in our family.

Mama’s Notebook Weekly Planner & OrganizerThe Catholic Daily Planner2015 Saints Calendar

Captain :: 8th Grade

Preparation for Confirmation (continue with Dad)
Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (continue with Dad)
The Soldier of Christ: Talks before Confirmation (independent reading)
Christ 101 (just getting started with this program, will continue in high-school)

Created for high school students and adults, Christ 101 is a welcome addition to my homeschool curriculum for our teens! The convenient and easy to follow format is perfect for me as a home educating mother of many. I look forward to learning how to better defend my Catholic faith alongside my students. Thank you Dr. Scott Sullivan for creating an engaging, fun, and effective way to teach apologetics.

Saxon Math 8/7 with Teacher DVDs

Orbiting with Logic

The boys completed their Saxon Math 8/7 last month and have moved on to Saxon Algebra 1 for the rest of the school year.  Switching back to Saxon, and hiring a tutor for extra help with Math, was definitely one of the best decisions I made in 2013! You can read more about our past Math struggles here and here

Language Arts:
Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course: Level B
Phonetic Zoo, continue and complete Level B

Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood

First Form Latin with DVDs
Memorize Server Responses for Latin Mass

Our three oldest are working their way through the first half of First Form Latin this year and will continue with the second half during our next school year. It’s been slow going, but at least we are making some progress! 

History & Geography:
Connecting with History Volume 2: The Arrival of the King and His Kingdom
New Testament and Early Medieval History 63 B.C. through A.D. 1066

Maps Charts and Graphs Level H: United States, Past and Present

Ranger :: 7th Grade

Preparation for Confirmation (continue with Dad)
Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (continue with Dad)
A Child’s Book of Warriors (independent reading)
Christ 101

Saxon Math 8/7 with Teacher DVDs

History & Geography:
Connecting with History Volume 2: The Arrival of the King and His Kingdom
New Testament and Early Medieval History 63 B.C. through A.D. 1066

    Maps Charts and Graphs Level G: The World

    View Ranger’s Weekly Checklist

    Twinkle Toes :: 5th Grade

    Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (continue with Dad)

    Saxon Math 6/5 with Teacher DVDs
    Logic Liftoff

    View Twinkle Toes’ Weekly Checklist

    Following the release of the updated version of Fix-It! we have returned to using this grammar program for all our older children. The new program includes 33 weeks of daily passages, 132 vocabulary words, and much clearer notes for the teacher. Each week the children learn a grammar concept, locate and fix errors in four short passages, discuss how the grammar applies to the passage, and rewrite the corrected passage into a notebook. Love it! 

    Chiquita :: 4th Grade

    The New Baltimore Catechism No. 1 (with Dad)


    Language Arts:
    Student Writing Intensive, Level A (complete then move on to Continuation Course A
    Phonetic Zoo, Level A
    Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree
    Pictures in Cursive

    Prima Latina (second half of book, continued from 3rd grade)

    History & Geography:
    Connecting with History Volume 2: The Arrival of the King and His Kingdom
    New Testament and Early Medieval History 63 B.C. through A.D. 1066

    Maps Charts and Graphs Level D: States & Regions

    Snuggles :: 2nd Grade 

    First Communion Preparation
    St. Joseph First Communion Catechism

    Saxon Math 2

    Language Arts:
    Primary Arts of Language: Writing and Reading
    All About Spelling Level 1 and Level 2
    Faith and Freedom Readers
    Supplementing with Explode the Code and All About Reading Readers

    From the archives: All About Reading or Primary Arts of Language? 

    History & Geography:
    Connecting with History Volume 2: The Arrival of the King and His Kingdom
    New Testament and Early Medieval History 63 B.C. through A.D. 1066

      Maps Charts and Graphs Level B: Neighborhoods

      Focus on Elementary Biology with Laboratory Workbook, and Teacher’s Manual
      Focus on Elementary Physics with Laboratory Workbook, and Teacher’s Manual
      Life Is Precious: A Culture of Life Unit Study for Elementary Students


      Rose & Bud :: Pre-Kindergarten 

      In addition to lots of picture books, family field trips, educational games, and religion lessons with Daddy for both of our little ones, Rose has also started Saxon K and All About Reading Pre-Reading. She also loves participating in our family art classes. She will officially begin Kindergarten in the fall!

      Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to keep up with my own hopes and personal expectations for our younger children (i.e. Little Saints and The Alphabet Path), they are still getting an incredible education. It must be pretty awesome to have so many older siblings!

      Now I need to get started planning our 2015-2016 school year which includes HIGH SCHOOL!


      1. Jennifer

        Love reading others' plans for school. Quick question…Do you order all the lab supplies for the science at once before school starts? Or do you order as you go? Do you have an approximate cost for the supplies?

        2015-05-13 21:38:43

      2. Jennifer

        One more question. How do you attack the Saxon lessons? We've used Saxon since the beginning. Our oldest is finishing her junior year of homeschooling. We can never get through all the lessons, investigations, tests, mental math, timed tests before the year is over. I would really appreciate a little more info on your daily details for Saxon Math. Thanks.

        2015-05-13 21:41:34

      3. Clara

        Hello! How are you liking Fix it! Grammar: Robin Hood? This is our first year using it and on the fence about whether we will use it again next year. What are your thoughts?

        2015-05-13 22:28:03

      4. Jennifer

        Thank you!!! Sounds like pretty basic supplies. I just started imagining that it could get pricey after seeing your pictures from Ex. 6. But it looks to be very affordable.

        2015-05-14 15:08:02

      5. Jennifer

        Great info. We do things very similar except I am the "tutor". Maybe that's the problem. We don't get as many lessons completed each week as I'd like. I have kids in Saxon Geometry, Saxon Algebra 2, Saxon 8/7 and Saxon 5/4. My 6 year old has Down syndrome and requires intense teacher time and then the little ones hang with us learning/interrupting. The best laid plans rarely seem to pan out. Alas, the year is coming to an end and we'll just pick up next year where we left off. Thanks for your blog. It's been a real blessing you me and also my older girls. They love looking over your birthday themes and have been inspired to make a few special cakes and also host a tea party for a number of friends (ages 12-16).

        2015-05-14 15:19:31

      6. Clara

        Thanks Jessica! Your answers are always so thorough; I love it.

        Honestly, I think I'm just not used to the editing style versus "let's just learn a new concept and practice it." My son seems to enjoy it and you're right? It really compliments the EIW program which we're also doing.

        I forgot to ask/mention…we will be using Connecting Through History next year. A bunch of us moms are getting together next Thursday so that another mom can walk us through the program and explain it before some of us actually purchase it.

        Can you comment a little bit about it and maybe why and how you chose it and why you like it! Thanks Jessica!!

        2015-05-15 10:30:43

      7. Genevieve

        Thank you for this post! So helpful as I continue to find exactly what works best for us!! I'm very appreciative!

        2015-05-14 03:36:40

      8. Celine

        Thank you for such an informative post! Incredible!!!

        2015-05-14 11:55:52

      9. Katie

        Hi! I'm curious as to where you order your timeline book. I like that it has more of a binder spine than a regular book. Thank you!

        2015-05-14 14:11:21

      10. Kathy@9peas

        I always enjoy your curriculum plans and checklist as well as the 'what worked, what didn't'. Thank you for always sharing!

        2015-05-14 16:19:07

      11. Katie

        That's quite helpful. Thank you! 🙂

        2015-05-15 01:17:37

      12. Elizabeth

        Another year checked off! This year didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped but what can you do but go with the flow. My oldest is graduating and of to UD and Victor Mario is entering high school! Can you believe you now have a high schooler? Time flies.

        2015-05-15 16:50:39

      13. Jessica Gordon

        No! I can't believe it! It seems like it was just yesterday he was starting Kindergarten! 🙂 How exciting for your oldest to be heading to UD!

        2015-05-15 20:58:43

      14. Jessica Gordon

        That is a lot to keep up with, Jennifer! God bless you for managing to do it all on your own! I'm glad to hear that you and your older girls enjoy the blog! One of these days I really need to get back to posting pictures from some of the recent birthdays. As my children get older (and we all try to keep up with the tutors each week, lol) I seem to have a lot less time for blogging, despite my best intentions. I hope you have a great weekend!

        2015-05-15 21:08:47

      15. Jaime

        Can you comment on how your husband does the catechism with the kids and what might their weekly "assignments" look like from him? Thank you and God Bless!

        2015-05-23 04:26:48

      16. Jessica Gordon

        He usually spends about an hour with the older children and then an hour with the younger children on Sunday afternoons reading, discussing, and memorizing the catechism. Their assignments are usually based on the review section of each lesson (read from the Bible, class project, etc) in addition to continuing to work on memorization.

        2015-06-02 15:06:33

      17. Gracebezner

        Thank you for posting this 🙂 are there any changes you're going to make for the new school year?

        2015-05-29 16:19:45

      18. Jessica Gordon

        I'm still working on putting together our plans for this upcoming school year, but I don't think we'll be making very many changes other than the addition of some high school courses for our older boys. Our four older children have already started next year's Saxon Math books. The older boys will probably be taking a break from the Student Writing Intensive and be using Speech Boot Camp and Elegant Essay from IEW in addition to Fix It! Grammar and Phonetic Zoo. I'll keep using Focus of Science (Geology and Astronomy next year) for Elementary and Middle School, but the older boys will be studying Physical Science for High School credit. We'll also continue with another track or two of Meet the Masters. I still need to finalize our plans for History and Literature as well as any additional plans for Kindergarten.

        2015-06-02 15:18:02

      19. @Jenpanic0

        Oh I love when you posts these! Next year I will start teaching my son who is 6. I struggled doing anything with him last year because we had a new baby so I was planning on sending him to a local private school this year for his basics. We recently found out it's not going to work out so I am going to homeschool. I am intimidated mainly to teach him how to read. I tried to do it this last year and it wasn't his favorite and I wasn't consistent enough. I also have a 10 year old going into 5th and a crazy active toddler and a baby. How do you get organized and stick with it? I worry that I won't have enough hands on time with them to teach them

        2015-06-14 04:47:46

      20. Jennifer

        Please look into All About Learning Press' All About Reading. After teaching 4 children to read, currently teaching #5 and two more to go I will never do it again without All About Reading. The program is so easy to use; it's scripted and one level can be completed easily within a schoolyear. Even quicker if you do a lesson every day.

        2015-06-14 20:06:30

      21. Joanna

        I am excited to use RC History in the coming school year. Do you buy the literature packages? I am debating about what to buy. Are the packages worth it or do you have your kids pick a few from the list?

        2015-06-26 00:16:06

      22. @Jenpanic0

        Thank you! We will be using this for him next year. 🙂

        2015-07-06 03:01:58

      23. Jen

        Jessica, I always love reading your posts as our children are almost all the same ages/grades! Wondering if you could share the color coded Saxon checklist? That would be so very helpful keeping everyone on track this year! I will have 6 grades and a preschooler and a VERY busy toddler, and I'm feeling overwhelmed before the year even starts!

        2015-07-20 11:41:33

      24. Anne

        Thank you so much for posting all of this info. I have seven kids and have been homeschooling for 15 years. My oldest is getting ready to leave for college in a couple weeks! He did high school with Seton. My 16 year old is also doing Seton, but I am thinking of creating my own curriculum for my 14-year old (girl) who is about to start high school. All of your information is so helpful! I especially appreciate the science book info as I need something for multiple ages. I would be interested if you would post what you are planning to do for high school. When my oldest started high school, I felt like he needed to be registered with a school to get an accredited diploma. What are your thoughts on that? Thank you for sharing your information and your beautiful family with us! 🙂

        2015-07-29 14:12:28

      25. Jessica Gordon

        Hi Jen! I'm sorry I never got back to your comment. Do you still need the color coded Saxon checklists? Let me know if you do and I can email them to you. I hope your school year is off to a good start! God bless!

        2015-10-07 03:36:12

      26. Jessica Gordon

        Hi Joanna! I'm catching up on comments and realized I missed responding to yours too. Sorry about that! I haven't purchased any of the literature packages. I just order our books from various sources (RC History, Amazon, Paperback Swap, the Library, etc) as we need them, or when I'm able to find great deals on them. We've been collecting the suggested books for years now and have a nice collection to choose from this year. I hope you are enjoying RC History!

        2015-10-07 03:43:44

      27. Jessica Gordon

        I'm sorry I missed responding to your comment and glad that Jennifer was able to respond! All About Reading is an excellent program. Offering a little prayer that your school year is going well. God bless you and your family!

        2015-10-07 03:47:03

      28. Georgianna K.

        Dear Jessica, Hello! I'm wondering about the science curriculum you are using. Can you tell me if it promotes a "young earth," biblical-based science, or "old-earth." I've never heard of either of these terms before homeschooling. Usually just, "Creationism" or "Evolution." Creationism being the young, 6,000 year-old earth. Evolution teaching a millions of years old earth. From my understanding, the Church does not encourage/discourage either belief, however, the Church has cautioned against using the Bible as a science book. Thanks for your help!

        2016-01-11 15:44:23

      29. Jessica Gordon

        Actually, it doesn't promote either. It is a good alternative to both young-earth creation science and mainstream science textbooks for elementary and middle school aged students. The publishers are in the process of updating their website and FAQ page, but they claim that they are the “only worldview-friendly curriculum that supports both Christian and secular values.” For example, the author avoids questions about the age of the earth and its contents (rocks, minerals, mountain formation) by simply omitting any references to dates about their formation. We have really enjoyed the series the past couple years (this is our third year using this series), it's a great way to introduce children to the concepts and key terms, supplementing with additional books and projects.

        2016-01-13 03:26:15

      30. Ruby

        Hello Jessica, I have followed your blog for quite some time now. I'm looking at art programs for next year, I'll have a 4th (8yr old) and a 6th (12 year old) grader. How are you liking meet the masters? When you purchased it, did you use one grade level for all or did you purchase 3 separate levels? Thank you for taking the time to answer this.

        2016-01-26 13:15:24

      31. Jenn

        Hi Jessica! I was wondering if you are still using Connecting with History for your high schoolers? I am trying to decide what to use for my rising 9th grader and was wondering if you are still enjoying the program for that age level? Thank you so much for any input you have to offer!

        2016-02-14 20:47:21

      32. Jessica Gordon

        Hi Clara!

        We have been really happy with the revised editions of Fix It! Grammar, including Robin Hood! The boys are liking it so much better than Tom Sawyer (which we were glad to see had been replaced with The Nose Tree in the new edition!) from a couple years ago.

        When I was growing up my mom used Voyages in English for us and, even though I completed the VIE courses and scored well on all my tests, the first class I had to take when I arrived at Christendom College was ENG Grammar Workshop 100… I still struggle with grammar. My children seem to be learning (and actually retaining!) so much more than I ever did, studying grammar through editing. I love that Fix It! Grammar ties in so nicely with their other writing classes from IEW, applying the same terminology and strategies. It would probably have been a lot harder if they hadn't been doing the Student Writing Intensive courses the past few years.
        On Thursdays the boys review their work from the week and are taught any new concepts for the next week. They wait until the end of the week to rewrite the corrected passages, after we go over their work and make sure every thing is correct. At the beginning of the school year I purchased them each a Moleskine Journal (like these) for rewriting the passages which has been a lot of fun!

        The boys are actually finishing the last lesson of Robin Hood today! It definitely got much more challenging as the year progressed, but we are planning to continue on to Frog Prince, or Just Deserts (Book 3) next year. The girls have already completed The Nose Tree and will move on to Robin Hood in the fall. I'll probably wait until my 2nd grader is in 4th grade before starting The Nose Tree with him.

        What is it that you haven't liked about Fix it! Grammar?

        2015-05-14 16:53:23

      33. Jessica Gordon

        Yes, it IS challenging to get through everything isn't it! I think it nearly triggered a panic attack last September when I realized how many lessons we had to get through (and grade!) each week just to keep up! My older boys were very excited to see that, now that they have completed Saxon 8/7, they won't have any more investigations, mental math, or timed tests in Algebra 1! I'm sure it will have it's own challenges! 😉

        I do still make myself color-coded checklists for a few subjects including math. You can see a picture in this post. I plan for 4 lessons/investigations each week with tests on most Fridays. Our three oldest started the school year with about 15-20 lessons already completed (last summer) and they are hoping to do the same again this next school year, starting now. It really took the pressure off knowing they were a little ahead all year.

        I purchased the Teacher CDs for each grade. We also have a math tutor on Tuesday mornings. She is a Catholic friend of mine who has a teaching license/degree in math. She has been teaching high school Saxon math in a local co-op for the past 8 years and also home educates her own 8 kids-her oldest just finished her freshman year in college and her second is headed to University of Dallas in the fall! She has always used Saxon and I hired her to help remediate when we switched back to Saxon a couple years ago. I love that I don't have to remind my kids to get their work done – they know they'll be seeing her – and she keeps me on track too with all the correcting (I don't want her to spend all her time doing what I can easily do myself).

        The older boys prefer to have their lessons taught to them by the tutor, when possible. The first half of the year I only had her every other Tuesday, and they would have to watch some of their lessons on the Teacher CDs, but now we are so blessed to have her for 2-3 hours each Tuesday. She'll teach them as much of their math for the week as possible. Now that they are in Algebra 1 she is also grading their math for me. (Yay!!) Yesterday she taught them Lessons 7-10. They will work on having all the problems completed before they meet with her again next Tuesday, working on one lesson per day.

        Our oldest daughter completed Saxon 6/5 in March and has started Saxon 7/6. She usually watches all her lessons using the Teacher CD and that has been enough help for her, but I have the tutor teach her the investigations and also review any problems she has missed. Yesterday the tutor taught her the first investigation for 7/6 and reviewed her mistakes from the past week's lessons.

        Our 4th grader completed Saxon 5/4 and just moved on to Saxon 6/5. For the first half of the year she needed the most help. The tutor would teach her the lessons, she'd watch them again (one lesson each morning) using the Teacher CDs before doing the problems for the day, I would grade all of her work, and the tutor would go over all her mistakes with her to further explain the concepts she was struggling with each week.

        I've been teaching our 2nd grader most of his math this past year, using the Saxon 2 Meeting Book, Teacher's Guide, and Workbooks. When the tutor has extra time she teaches him one or two lessons. He only needs to do math four days each week to finish by the end of the year. Fridays are usually review and/or catch up days. He needs the most help from me – which is probably why he is the only one who hasn't completed all his lessons for this year yet! 😉

        2015-05-14 01:45:32

      34. Jessica Gordon

        Hi Jennifer! We gather the lab supplies as we need them. 🙂 A friend of mine – who is also a science teacher – tutors my children on Thursday mornings and has completed many of the labs with them this year. She is using the same texts for her 7th grade daughter this year as well and will usually bring some of the supplies we need with her.

        Last year we spent all year studying Chemistry. This year we should complete two courses, Biology and Physics. There are 10 Lessons/Chapters/Labs for each book. This year we have spent about two weeks or so on each lesson. The first week the children will read the text and take the quiz. The second week the children will complete the lab and any worksheets that go along with it in their lab books. Some of the labs take multiple weeks to complete, but we've still had plenty of time to finish both courses this school year. I've also used a couple of the Study Folders with my younger children.

        We are still working on finishing Physics, but for Biology this year here is what we used:

        Experiment 1 – Putting things in Order: Items from around the house (tennis ball, cotton ball, orange, banana, apple, etc)

        Experiment 2 – Inside the Cell: Pencil or Pen, Colored Pencils or Crayons (you can see a picture of one of their lab pages for this expierement in this post)

        Experiment 3 – Take Away the Light: Plant with at least 6 flat green leaves, various other supplies from around the house (the younger children also needed a couple plants – A & B – for experiment 3, pictured above)

        Experiment 4 – Colorful Flowers: Jars, Food Coloring, White Carnations

        Experiment 5 – Which Way is Down?: Pinto Beans, Jars, Rubber Bands, Paper, Tape, Plastic Wrap, pen, knife – all stuff from around the house.

        Experiment 6 – How Do They Move? and Experiment 7 – How Do They Eat?: We did need a Student Microscope 10X objective and glass microscope slides for these experiments, along with a Protozoa Study Kit. (Kathleen ordered the kit from Home Study Tools.) My kids LOVED these labs!

        Experiment 8 – From Caterpillar to Butterfly: Butterfly Garden and Caterpillars (Another hit!)

        Experiment 9 – From Tadpole to Frog: We haven't completed this one yet, since we always have tadpoles/frogs all around our house and I didn't want to spend the money, but a friend recently gave me an extra Grow-a-Frog kit she had so we are going to do it soon!

        Experiment 10 – Making an Ecosystem: We also just used outdoor supplies/plants/bugs for this.

        The elementary labs were usually simpler versions of the middle school labs, and most of the time we used the same supplies. Home Science Tools does offer a kit with a collection of the harder to find supplies for Chemisty, Biology and Physics for both Elementary and Middle School. You can also look through the first few sample pages of the various teacher's manuals on the publishers website to see a list of the "Materials at a Glance" for all the lab experiments in each book.

        I hope that helps!

        2015-05-13 23:19:11


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      Hi! I'm Jessica, a Roman Catholic wife and home educating mother to our nine children. I was home educated myself, along with my eleven younger siblings. I have a special devotion to St. Therese, through whom I have been given much help and many blessings--the beautiful "Shower of Roses" that she has sent my way! Here I will record a few of the blessings I treasure. Please remember that what you see here is just a little glimpse at our lives, so please say a prayer for us, as we continue to strive for holiness.

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